This “What would your warning label say?” question floating around social media triggered a lot of thought (and, of course a new blog post) in me this morning.
My warning label would say, “Stronger and more complicated than meets the eye.” – A “still water runs deep” kind of vibe. I think I’ve been sized up more than once in my life as the quiet compliant one; someone others might be able to mold into whomever they want or need her to be. But those who made those assumptions were often later caught off guard by the stubborn fierceness of a complicated soul.
It’s a good thing our Maker is not surprised or put off by our warning labels. I’m thankful that my #GoodGoodFather is big enough to handle this big personality with even bigger dreams and ideas sometimes hidden beneath a thin layer of quiet and calm. Know this friends: however foreboding your fictitious warning label may be to others, God can handle all of you – and very much wants you to place all of you in His hands so He can.
Photo Credit: WeTheVillage.co
You may be well-meaning by telling a struggling friend to cheer up, think positive, pray more, read the Bible more, eat better, serve others more, rest more, etc. However, the fact is they could already be doing all of these things and still be struggling with mental illness just as someone struggling with cancer or a broken bone may not be instantly cured by “chin up” talks from friends.
Mental illness is as real and complex as cancer, fractures, or any other illness or injury – just often times not as visible. And often these crippling mental illnesses remain invisible because the sufferers feel shamed and/or shunned if they share.
This shaming and shunning is particularly prevalent in some Christian communities where the (false) assumption is that if you have enough faith, you’ll have a healthy and happy life. The truth is, Christians suffering from mental illness may very well be seeking and trusting God with more faith, trust, and passion than those who haven’t suffered this way have even ever needed to muster.
So continue to pray for your friend who struggles with mental illness. But if you can’t have a conversation with them where your part is mostly listening and supporting rather than offering ideas, solutions, and quick fixes which essentially admonish the sufferer to “snap out of it”, it may be best to say nothing at all.
No matter what’s going on in your life, don’t forget to tell yourself this:
“Because I’m a part of my Maker’s eternal story, my story isn’t over!”
I am so blessed to work for a hospital that was founded by the Sisters of Mercy. So it is not only a hospital, but also an amazing faith-based community. Every day, our hospital president emails daily reflections like the one below to the entire team. Today’s reflection is so powerful, I thought I would pass it on….
Change the World Around You by Pastor Kenny Kuykendall
Whether you realize it or not, you have “it”.
It may not be with a large circle of people or on a decorated platform, but it is there.
It may not be evident among the masses or recognizable among the elite but it looms in the shadows of your day to day activities.
It is called influence, and you have more of it than you think.
In his book Spiritual Influence, Mel Lawrenz incisively states, “God uses millions of no-name influencers every day in the simplest selfless acts of service. They are the teachers whose names will never be in the newspaper, pastors who will never author a book, managers who will never be profiled in a magazine, artists whose work is buried in layers of collaboration, writers whose sphere of influence is a few dozen people who read their blogs. But they are the army that makes things happen. To them devotion is its own reward. For them influence is a continual act of giving, nothing more complicated than that.”
You don’t have to become a house-hold name to change the house.
You don’t have to have your name out on the marquee to change the marquee.
People doing small things change the world.
Recognize your sphere of influence, regardless of its size, and do something to make a difference.
We collectively gasp at yet another news blast of what we thought was a success story ending in tragic pain.
And…. where one well-known story ends, thousands more slip quietly into the dark night of despair.
All the while…. we smile for another selfie while masking our own pain.
As one who has literally been talked off the ledge of life more than once, I now stand on that same ledge and shout, “This has to end now!”
I’m not talking about ending in yet another tragedy. Rather, let’s write a different story by shining the light of transparency and authenticity on our pain so true healing has a fighting chance.
Let’s say “goodbye” to building a life of lies through social media fronts or pious religious displays of fake faith and strength.
Let’s be real even if it means letting others know we’re really hurting. And let’s be present for each other beyond a few “likes” on social media.
Let’s stop play-acting and heal together.